CHICAGO – Unlike last season, this one is going to feel a little bit like normal.

The full 82-game NHL slate is back after it was shortened to 56 games last winter and spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A season will start in October and end in June with the crowning of a Stanley Cup champion.

Things are a little more normal for the Blackhawks, too, as they prepare for their 2021-2022 season with captain Jonathan Toews back in the fold. An illness kept him out of all of last season and he’ll be in the lineup as the team faces the Avalanche in their season opener on Wednesday.

Also sticking with things that are normal with the Blackhawks are questions about what the upcoming season might hold as they continue to reshape their franchise. Toews and Jonathan Toews have been joined by veteran newcomers Marc-Andre Fleury and Seth Jones, but a number of young players continue to make up the lineup.

Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun Times joined WGN News Now Sports Talk from Denver to preview the opener and what might be ahead for the team over the next six months on Wednesday. Watch his conversation with Larry Hawley in the video above.

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